Wednesday, April 20, 2011


The biggest downside I have come across with wikis is turning in assignments by posting them on a wiki page. We end up erasing each others’ contributions because people edit at the same time and it only saves the last person who saved it. It’s not like Google Docs where multiple users can edit at the same time. You think you’ve posted your assignment to find out later that you didn’t get the points for it because it ended up erased when someone else saved at the same time as you. It’s highly frustrating but can be easily solved by designating times when each person or group can edit. 

One of my major fears of wikis was that if someone deleted something, even accidentally, it would be gone forever. So, I was relieved to find out that you can simply go to the revision history. That solves that problem!
I have had experience with both PBworks and wikispaces. At first, I chose PBworks because I have never actually created my own wiki using it whereas I have with wikispaces. My main memory of working with PBworks is from a class I took at MSU. I was very confused on the organization and had trouble finding the files and information I needed unless my instructor sent me a direct link. I’m usually pretty good at figuring things out, but I’ll admit that I can be impatient as well. After trying it out, I understand the layout a little bit more but still do not like the way they choose to organize everything. It just looks like one giant mess to my brain. I need something straightforward and simple. So, I switched to wikispaces. 

Actually, I also started out trying to create a wiki which was to attempt to be an ultimate time line resource. I don’t believe that memorizing dates is the way to learn about history, but I realized that time lines really help me see how history connects. So, maybe it could help others as well. Sadly, I ended up dropping this idea for now because I just couldn’t figure out a feasible way to use the current wiki technology available to to the common person to create the vision in my mind. I think I might end up needing the help of a web designer if my idea has a chance of ever coming to fruition.

So, I decided to do a simple alternative and create a wiki which I could use for student teaching next year. Since my CT co-teaches as well as teaching her own classes, the wiki will pull all of her students classes together. Almost everything up there right now is fabricated to show a sampling of what it will look like. It is difficult creating a wiki for classes which I know nothing about as of right now. However, I know I want a page for each class that any of the students are in to help both the teachers and the students keep track of everything. I know I want to include a class list and perhaps contact information that students are willing to share voluntarily to help each other out with homework. I want a calendar for each class to provide a visual of when assignments are due. I’ll also have links to the class syllabus as well as notes if possible, assignment directions and rubrics, and any other information that could benefit students related to each class respectively.
For this type of use, using a wiki instead of a website provides some advantages. Students would be able to edit which is beneficial for adding their own names and contact information and contributing other resources. Perhaps I might end up also using it for turning in projects or sharing in-class work, but it will all depend on what is happening in the school. 

I like how simple wikispaces looks. It has the navigation on the left and tabs at the top. I also like the ease of adding widgets and other media. I do not like the tabs at the top because every time any of my classes have tried to utilize the “discussion” tab, it becomes confusing. I think the main hang-up is that there is a set of tabs for each page as opposed to one discussion forum for the entire site. So, when someone wants to create a discussion they have to specify the page it’s on. I also do not like the fact that I cannot change the alignment of text, at least I have not figured out how to do it if it’s possible. Everything automatically aligns to the left.

Has anyone had good experiences with wikis other than PBworks or wikispaces?

I just want to point out the importance of having a discussion with your students before unleashing onto a class wiki. I think some ground rules need to be laid down about respect and how using the wiki is privilege. If they misuse it, even once, they will be removed from the member list. Otherwise, you could end up with jokesters putting inappropriate words, images, etc. on something endorsed by the school.

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